Are telehealth services the holy grail solution for bridging ad-hoc medical aid and enabling provider flexibility?
Dating back to the late 1970s, hospitals often contracted nurses around the country when they needed extra support due to critical events or staffing shortages. Travel nursing became a cost-effective and efficient way to provide patients with care in times of overwhelmed systems. The COVID 19-pandemic was a great example of how the utilization of travel nurses offered quick support to deal with the high volume of patients, burnout, and exhaustion. Similarly, Telehealth provided relief to the health systems during the pandemic and continues to be an efficient model for delivering care, keeping hospital wards from overfilling, and decreasing burnout for our providers.
Throughout history, medicine and healthcare innovation must be pushed and molded to meet needs effectively during crises. The COVID -19 pandemic and the Ukrainian war were the most recent and urgent situations that required innovative responses and solutions to provide patient care, improve the recording of health records, and physician safety. COVID challenged us with distancing requirements to reduce viral spread, and the Ukrainian war posed (and continues to pose) geographical limitations for medical experts and victims. During these medical crises, ad-hoc telemedicine responses worked together to adapt to the unstable environments of patients.
When a crisis hits, basic needs like healthcare and health services present some of the most urgent challenges. During the most recent Ukrainian refugee crisis, thousands of people were displaced and unable to access healthcare services. Medical organizations like Medcase quickly joined the front lines and contributed with on-demand virtual humanitarian medical assistance. Medcase partnered with local medical staff and leveraged their global network of 14K clinicians to ensure access to multi-specialty medical experts. It also provided a provider/patient management platform to maintain virtual records to support continuity of care.
A 2022 Center for Disease Control (CDC) report showed a 154% increase in the usage of Telehealth services compared to 2019. These numbers show that modern technology has made telemedicine easier and more accessible, even for providers and patients who don’t consider themselves technologically savvy.
Why is Telehealth beneficial to the patient and the caregiver?
- Comfort and convenience - The physician and the patient can meet each other from the luxury of their home or place of stay, saving scheduling time, travel expenses, and physical effort. Telemedicine has also become the primary treatment method for non-urgent and follow-up appointments.
- Data sharing and virtual records- Doctors can collect vital data like heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, physical activity, sleep cycles, and glucose levels from Telehealth products to get a holistic view of a person’s lifestyle. These varied data sets will help providers better manage chronic conditions, especially in urgent situations. Data sharing also gives patients virtual records to show new providers when consulting different health professionals along their care journey.
- Virtual clinician network - A network of multi-specialty medical experts can conduct high-level consultations by hosting a panel of specialized providers as needed. A supportive network helps primary physicians provide an efficient diagnosis faster without the patient having to schedule multiple appointments and see various providers. Telehealth technologies allow healthcare professionals to tap into the broad expertise of fellow doctors from across the globe and provide efficient care.
Telemedicine has allowed providers to travel far and wide and support patients virtually anywhere with a signal to provide patient monitoring and follow-ups. Telehealth services mean patients get seen faster and avoid unnecessary negative hospital visits or health outcomes. So isn’t it fair enough to say that ad hoc Telehealth services have evolved to be the modern travel nurse?
Telehealth has proven and continues to prove its success in times of crisis, chronic care flare-ups, and overall outcomes for patients everywhere. Telehealth may be “the future of healthcare,” but it has truly impacted patients' lives today. As technology improves, Telecare will continue to grow and be a common way of delivering care worldwide.